Where can I find a good horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 08-14-2012, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Question Where can I find a good horse?

So I have been looking for a first horse for my daughter (9) and I to share. She has been taking lessons for 2 + years and I have been taking lessons for 1 year so we are looking for well trained horse that is suitable for a kid/begginer rider. So far the horses we have tried are either too ploddy/too hot or they have soundness issues. I must be looking in the wrong place , looking at the wrong horses, or asking the wrong questions to narrow down prospects. Any suggestions on how to make this process successful would be helpful. I know the obvious thing is to ask my daughter's trainer for help, but we have told trainer that we are looking and asked for her input but she doesn't seem interested in helping. Any another suggestions?
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post #2 of 17 Old 08-14-2012, 11:20 PM
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Welcome to the world of horse ownership - its tough, expensive, and emotional rollercoater but oh so worth it :)

Unfortunately trying to find 'that' horse is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It is sad, but many sellers will take advantage of your being a novice and try to sell a horse to you over the phone, making it sound much better than what it actually is. I would suggest going to try out every horse that sounds even remotely suitable. You never know - the most unlikely candidate may end up being a diamond in the rough!
Horse 'hunting' is a long and tedious process, some people get lucky and find something suitable right off the bat, for others it can take months, even years, to find the right horse. I have been on both sides of the fence, it took me 2 years to find the right horse when I was looking for a new dressage prospect.
My current two horses were both impulse buys - very expensive ones at that! I was contemplating purchasing a very well bred, high quality weanling. Went to visit a local stud with the notion that I would just take a look around, see what I could get for what prices, then put money away and look to purchase something in around 3 months. I put a deposit on an 8 month old colt the same day!

I wasn't really looking to buy anything, when I purchased my current riding horse. But I saw his add, I love his blood lines and he could REALLY move, and at a bargain price. Rode him the same day, fell in love, vet checked and purchase the next day. Another oopsie, my partner wasn't immensely impressed, but he's turned out to be a brilliant horse and I will easily double if not triple my money if I sold him today.

Best of luck!!!!
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post #3 of 17 Old 08-14-2012, 11:33 PM
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Hi there OP. I think a lot of the issues a lot of people run into when looking for horses is not understanding the time and effort it goes into "making" a good horse. First of all I would not be looking at a horse under $4000. A horse priced that low (depending on your area, especially in this economy) is generally either lame or crazy or no one has put the time into it. If you want a finished horse that is going to be safe and still stay sound for 5+ years, you will have to pay for it.
I would also narrow your search to horses between the ages of 8 and 15. Look for horses that have been ranch horses, roped off of, worked off of, rodeo pickup horses and the like. These horses are (generally) going to be sturdy and sound (they WILL have wear and tear though - this is where the vet check comes in), quiet and "been there done that" type horses that are easily re-trained to do anything because they are broke, responsive and used to working without asking questions.
While these horses likely CAN be picked up at auctions for cheap, look for someone trying to find a "forever home" as it is likely they have cared for the animal well throughout their life and are not the "use and dispose" type people.

My first horse was a mostly quarter horse working ranch horse that was looking for a retirement home. I was about your daughter's age and with the help of a coach was able to get the horse doing low level dressage and hunters easily (as well as competing in basically every other event I could get a trailer ride to, reining, open shows, trail classes, you name it - he did it).
His biggest assets were his calm and cool temperament and the extensive amount of "working" he had done in his life - this is what I would look for first and foremost, well over the breed or the kind of tack the horse is wearing.

Good luck!
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post #4 of 17 Old 08-15-2012, 12:33 AM
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Have you asked your instructor for help? Professionals in the business usually have connections that the general people dont know about yet. If you ask her to help and give her a finders fee, she might be able to make a few calls and find you something.you can live with.
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post #5 of 17 Old 08-15-2012, 01:04 AM
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I'd contact your local riding clubs. There are often children moving onto a larger horse that are looking to sell a good horse that has been there done that. A lot of these horses sell quickly though - word of mouth rather than advertising. There are also sometimes older horses that people are will to lease out.

Its a tricky stage to be buying a horse, because if you get one the right size and level, chances are your daughter will out grow it in both size and ability within a couple of years. If you get something with more competing potential it might not be as quiet as you want.

Often if you're not finding anything at all you need to look at what you've been looking for. Like what kind of area you are looking at. Are you just looking nearby area, or a couple of hours away as well? What is your price range like?

Sometimes putting up a wanted ad can help. I put up a wanted ad for my mare and the old owner contacted me. She was a couple of hours away in the middle of nowhere, somewhere no one would look, but she turned out to be just right.
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post #6 of 17 Old 08-15-2012, 03:14 AM
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Where are you located?

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post #7 of 17 Old 08-15-2012, 04:21 AM
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but we have told trainer that we are looking and asked for her input but she doesn't seem interested in helping.
This is kind of a red flag for me. Any idea why she's not interested in helping? Is her business geared just to lessons on school horses? Has she helped other students transition to horse ownership? Is she reluctant because she doesn't think you're ready, or because she doesn't think it's realistic to find something that suits both of you? Or is she just too busy to committ the time? (Yes, it's a major time committent.)

In order increase the odds of this being a successful venture, you need to have a professional both helping you look and helping you with the transition to ownership. If this person your current instructor isn't willing to do that, I'd look for a new barn or new instructor first, and the horse second.

Most horses of the type you'll be looking for and need change hands without every being advertised. They change hands within a barn or are leased to a succession of clients, or are sold by word of mouth through the trainer's/instructor's network. So you need to get plugged into those sources rather than just scanning ads.

I would also strongly recommend you consider leasing before making the jump to ownership. The transition from riding school horses in lessons to riding a your own, fresh horse unsupervised can be a big step; leasing a horse provides an intermediate step.

I'd recommend not going to look at, or ride, advertised horses on your own, and not to put your daughter on anything that hasn't been thoroughly tried out/warmed up first. It's best if you have an instructor, other professional or knowledgable friend with you, and *always* have the seller ride the horse or have it ridden before you do.

To piggyback on what Anabel said above, you want a horse with appropriate experience, and you need to be prepared to pay for that experience. This is not a place to cut corners. As a very general rule of thumb, in my area, a nice, safe horse suitable for a first time owner is $1500 -$2500. If it's decent looking, under 12, sound, and able to do small, local shows, it's $2500 - $5000. Older horses with minor soundess issues may be cheaper, and they may be the perfect compromise for you. However, don't compromise on experience, safety or ground manners.

If you can provide your general location, I can provide some more specific recommendations.
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post #8 of 17 Old 08-15-2012, 05:02 AM
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I broke EVERY single rule when I bought my first horse and it worked out fine. God must take care of idiots. Sometimes. My husband fell in love with him and he's ridden him now for 11 years. I went through a few before I ended up with my horse and I'm now looking again.

You've gotten great advice. BE WARY of anything anyone tells you. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there and with the economy and the drought, a lot of people just want to get out from under their horses. Sometimes a miracle occurs and a good horse that would be suitable for you does show up at a reasonable price...but often they are sold within the horse community by word of mouth. They never even get advertised.

My advice?.. Make LOTS of friends within your local horse community. You need someone who knows what they're doing to go with you when you look at horses. You need to be "in the loop." Make a list of what you're looking for...what you have to have and what would be nice. DO not compromise on what you have to have. Be prepared to pay a decent price. You're going to want a well-trained older horse. They don't pop out of the mare with all that training...someone has put in time and money to get the horse the training and experience you're looking for. Do NOT buy a young horse. You want dead broke, reliable. You're not ready to give a young horse the experience and training he will need, AND you are trusting him with your 9 year old daughter!

Look at a size that will give your daughter room to grow. At nine she's limber enough to hop up on a horse that's a little bit bigger than she can comfortably fit. She will grow. You don't want her falling in love with a horse that will end up too small for her in a couple of years. And that is another reason to buy a broke, broke horse whose size isn't going to intimidate her.

Unless you KNOW the individual or they come with references, I'd be very cautious. Some people will say anything. I saw a posting on another site last week: They were selling their "broke" horse that they had purchased for their 9 year old daughter. They had discovered that the three year old horse with 60 days of training wasn't broke enough! DUH.... Ya think!!!???

Leasing first is a great idea to sort of edge into owning. Asking a local equine vet for advice is another. They know EVERYBODY...and they know most of the horses. They can usually point you in the right direction.
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post #9 of 17 Old 08-15-2012, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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To answer the first question, we are in Michigan.

To answer the second, I am not sure why my daughter's trainer doesn't seem that helpful. It could be that many of her students use her horses. In the 2+ years that we have been with her I can only think of one family that she has found a horse for. We have half leased one of her horses for the past 2 summers so we do have experience being "unsupervised". It could be that instructing is her second job and she just doesn't have time. In any case I will take all your suggestions in to account. Thanks.
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post #10 of 17 Old 08-15-2012, 10:21 AM
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Are you looking for a horse for a sport, or general riding?

The 'how-to-look' topic has been covered well. I somewhat disagree with the idea that you'll out-grow a horse you pick, IF you are looking for a general riding horse. I sold a 14.2 Arabian a couple of years ago because she & our gelding hated each other and I couldn't keep both. She was the horse my daughter learned to ride (as a total beginner at 10), and she also carried my 175 lbs without problem. She now lives a couple of miles from here and adults use her for trail riding 3-4 times/week. I also was given a mustang pony last December...at 13 hands and maybe 650-700 lbs, he is really too small for me, although he will carry me without complaint. He is a great size for my 5'2" wife and 5' daughter-in-law. He had and has some 'issues' - he's not very good in an arena and gets very nervous around strange horses who are often a foot taller than him - but he's a good horse on a trail ride. His issues don't make him dangerous. They are just a confidence and training issue that will take time to overcome.

Neither of the horses I mentioned were ever advertised for sale. Neither will ever be a good sport horse, but both are likely to earn their keep as enjoyable horses for a ride around the neighborhood or taking out on a trail.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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